ATTITUDE IS A LITTLE THING THAT MAKES A BIG DIFFERENCE. ~
Winston Churchill




Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Holiday Baking

I love to bake - really love to bake.  It's almost therapeutic for me to create something that tastes yummy and brings enjoyment and satisfaction to others.  I'm always looking for an excuse to bake and obviously this time of year provides the perfect reason to bake, bake, bake...

I tried several new recipes this year - some turned out pretty good and some turned out absolutely delicious.  Here are two recipes that we thoroughly enjoyed.  An added plus is they're both easy to make.  Hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

RECIPE #1 is from Allrecipes.
Candy Cane Fudge

Ingredients

  • 2 (10 ounce) packages vanilla baking chips
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed candy canes
  • 1 dash red or green food coloring

Directions

  1. Line an 8 inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, and grease the foil.
  2. Combine the vanilla chips and sweetened condensed milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently until almost melted, remove from heat and continue to stir until smooth. When chips are completely melted, stir in the peppermint extract, food coloring, and candy canes.
  3. Spread evenly in the bottom of the prepared pan. Chill for 2 hours, then cut into squares.
RECIPE #2 is from Kraft Recipes.

Chocolate Cookie Bark

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1 pkg.  (6 squares) BAKER'S White Chocolate, melted
  • 10 OREO Cookies, coarsely crushed, divided
  • 1 pkg.  (8 squares) BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, melted 

Directions

ADD peanut butter to white chocolate; mix well. Stir half the crushed cookies into each bowl of melted chocolate.
DROP spoonfuls of the chocolate mixtures onto waxed paper-covered baking sheet, alternating colors of chocolates. Swirl with knife.
REFRIGERATE 1 hour or until firm. Break into pieces. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Hey Santa!

 
Last night we took Winston to sit on Santa's lap for the first time (isn't this Santa great?).  Winston was so excited and could hardly stand to wait.  When it was his turn, he walked right up to Santa and hopped up on his lap (check out that smile!)  They went through the usual where Santa asked, "Have you been a good boy this year?" to which he nodded and said yes.  (It's a good thing Santa doesn't ask the parents this question!) 

Then Santa asked him what he wanted for Christmas.  Winston answered that he wanted a nerf gun, a paint ball gun and a BB gun.  (He's such a boy - we may have a hunter in the making)  I was waiting for Santa to say, "You'll shoot your eye out" or something like that but he just smiled and said he'd see what he could do and for Winston to keep being a good boy.  Winston was walking on air when we left.  It was just too cute!  I can't wait to see what he comes up with next year.  : )

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Gang - Back Together Again


The last one of Bo's group of friends came home from his mission just over a week ago.  They've all been friends since junior high - a few of them since grade school. 

I'm so proud of these boys (really they're all grown up now but I'll always think of them as boys).  I couldn't have picked a better group of friends for Bo.  They're just the best and I'm so grateful for the influence they've had in Bo's life.  They encourage each other to be their best and to go after their dreams. 

This picture was the first time the whole gang (with no one missing) has been able to get together since returning from their missions.  It's great to see their strong friendships endure.  Congrats you guys and good luck on your future endeavors.  I know you'll all do great things.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Delicious Drink - Strawberry Slushy

I usually post recipes for some type of cake or pie or cookies (yes I love dessert!).  Anyway, I thought I'd share this easy and super yummy drink recipe.  Enjoy!  : )
ULTIMATE FROZEN STRAWBERRY SLUSHY

1 cup Lemon/Lime beverage (I like 7-Up but you can use the beverage of your choice)
8 ounces frozen sliced strawberries in syrup
1/2 cup (or 4 ounces) frozen limeade concentrate

Fill a blender 3/4 full with ice and crush. Pour in the lemon/lime soda.  Add the strawberries and limeade. Blend for 30 seconds or until smooth. Pour into glasses and serve.  (You can also rub the rims of the glasses with a slice of lime and dip in powdered sugar.)  Makes 4 servings.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Real Meaning of Christmas

This is the cutest video about the real reason for Christmas.  A little girl is the narrator and tells the story of the Nativity with her own flair - it's just adorable and well worth a look.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Thought for this Month

We had a great lesson in church yesterday.  President Dieter Uchtdorf is one of my favorite Apostles to listen to - I really relate to the way he views the world and his perspective on things resonates with me.  The lesson was on a talk (click here to view) titled "Of Things That Matter Most" given by President Uchtdorf at this past General Conference and it's such a great message for this time of year - well worth the read.  Following are a few quotes from his talk:
"If life and its rushed pace and many stresses have made it difficult for you to feel like rejoicing, then perhaps now is a good time to refocus on what matters most."

"There is a beauty and clarity that comes from simplicity that we sometimes do not appreciate in our thirst for intricate solutions."

"Let us simplify our lives a little.  Let us make the changes necessary to refocus our lives on the sublime beauty of the simple, humble path of Christian discipleship - the path that leads always toward a life of meaning, gladness and peace."
And one more quote from President Uchtdorf:
"God does not need us to love Him.  But oh how we need to love God.  For what we love determines what we seek.  What we seek determines what we think and do.  What we think and do determines who we are - and who we will become."
Wise words from a wise man.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas Cookies - Gingerbread Cookies


I love to bake and cookies are my favorite treat to make - especially Christmas cookies.  I just came across this fun and yummy looking cookie recipe and can't wait to try it out.  I know Winston's going to LOVE these.  Besides, they're gingerbread (which I love too) and how can you go wrong with gingerbread and frosting?  I think I'll try some with red hots too.  Mmmmm!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Grateful Heart

I didn't want to let the month of November go by without expressing my gratitude for all the wonderful blessings in my life.  For the past year, I've tried to focus on "Finding Joy in the Journey" and being grateful for all that I have.  It hasn't always been easy.  Why is it such a simple thing to fall into a mode of self pity and wanting things that are out of reach?  All that does is bring sadness, disappointment and heartache.  When I focus on the many wonderful things in my life, I'm overwhelmed by how blessed I truly am.  Not only do I feel satisfied with what I have, but also I'm filled with such a deep sense of gratitude I can't help but feel and be happy.  So here goes with a few of the things I'm grateful for - really my list could go on and on and on...

I'm so very grateful for my family - my three wonderful sons and terrific husband.  I'm so grateful my sons have returned home safely - that they've had these wonderful opportunities to serve missions, to teach and help others and by doing so have learned so much about their own capabilities.  I'm so grateful for how our lives have been blessed by their missions - both spiritually and financially.  I'm grateful for their example - to Winston and to me.

I'm so grateful for Winston's health.  The surgery he had last year has made a HUGE difference in his health and strength and I know he's been blessed and watched over these past four years.  He is a miracle and I can't help but be amazed at how far he's come since the day of his birth.  Knowing how much Heavenly Father has blessed this little guy fills my heart with so many emotions - it's hard to express the depth of gratitude I feel.  I'm also so very grateful for Winston.  He's brought so much joy to our family and to my life as his mother.  My father told me he would keep me young and as usual, my father was right - even though Winston can be exhausting at times, his energy and enthusiastic wonder add a sense of magic to the mundane and remind me how special the simple things in life really are.

 
I'm so grateful for my wonderful husband - for his support, his strength, his kindness and his friendship.  He really is my best friend.  He knows all about me and still loves me inspite of my flaws.  From the day we met I've felt a connection with him - I think we're kindred spirits.  I feel so lucky and so blessed to be able to share my life with this incredible man.  Just the sound of his voice brings a smile to my face and warms my heart.  I couldn't do all I have to do without his help and love. 

My life is so blessed and enriched by my wonderful family and friends - your offers to help, your listening ears, your hugs and "I love you's."  I want to thank each of you for these special blessings - your love, your help, your friendship and for all that you add to my life.  I truly am grateful for each of you.  When I think of all I've been blessed with, my heart overflows with gratitude and I feel such a sense of peace and happiness.  Thank you.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

All Together Again

So much has happened since my last post.  Bo arrived home on November 18 - my family is all together again!  His arrival was every bit as exciting and thrilling as Zack's and I can't even describe how great it is to have my boys home again.  Winston has been on cloud 9 - he adores his big bros.  It's so sweet to see him wrap his arms around them and tell each of them that he loves them.  It's so pure and heartfelt that at times it still brings tears to my eyes.  He really is thrilled to have them back - probably as much as I am. 

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving - visiting with all of our family on both sides.  I made Zack and Bo's favorite desserts (we had tons of food!) and of course at the end of the day we watched Christmas Vacation - it's been an annual tradition of ours for at least the last 10 years.  Even though I was already stuffed, I just had to have a giant slice of my pumpkin pie while we watched the movie.  Boy was it yummy!  Unfortunately, I didn't quite make it to the end and fell asleep on Brad's shoulder - my boys laughed at me for dozing off.  All in all it was a fun and fulfilling day.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Just 7 More Days!!!!



Wow, I can't believe the time is almost here for my whole family to be reunited.  Bo will return home from his mission next Thursday and by this time next week, we'll all be home - together again.  I'm so excited to see him and can hardly wait to get that first hug at the airport.  It'll be so great to see all three of my boys together again - just 7 more days...  :D

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Another Favorite Recipe - Streusel Pumpkin Pie

I know I just posted a recipe for this month, but I received a request for a good pumpkin pie recipe.  I have a couple of really good pumpkin pie recipes but this one is my favorite.  I found it in a Taste of Home magazine many years ago and my family insists that I make it every Thanksgiving.  You can find the recipe here but I've listed it below as well.
 Streusel Pumpkin Pie

CRUST:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon shortening
4 to 5 tablespoons water

FILLING:
1 can (30 ounces) pumpkin pie filling (make sure to use the pie filling and not canned pumpkin)
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 egg, lightly beaten

STREUSEL TOPPING:
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons cold butter

In a bowl, combine flour, pecans and salt; cut in the shortening until crumbly. Gradually add water, tossing with a fork until a ball forms. Divide dough in half. Roll out each portion to fit a 9-in. pie plate; place pastry in pie plates. Flute edges and set aside.
Combine pie mix, milk and egg; pour into pastry shells. For topping, combine brown sugar, flour, pecans and cinnamon in a small bowl; cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over filling. Cover edges of pastry loosely with foil.
Bake at 375° for 40-45 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 2 hours. Refrigerate until serving. Yield: 2 pies (6-8 servings each).
(Hint: In a hurry, I use the Pillsbury pie crusts you can find in the refrigerator section at the grocery store)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Yummy Chicken Noodle Soup!

I love Chicken Noodle soup - especially when the weather is cold and stormy.  Over the years I've made several recipes and have come up with a version which is low fat, healthy and delicious (it's quick and easy to make too).  So here's my recipe for the month of November.  Enjoy!



CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP

2 Tbsp butter
1 ½ cups thinly sliced carrot
2 large rib celery, diced (about 1 cup)
1 medium onion, diced (about ½ cup)
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cans (14 ½ oz) cans low-fat chicken broth
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 ½ cups uncooked broad egg noodles ( I like to use Kluski brand noodles)
½ pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley

In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, heat butter over medium-high heat until melted. Add carrots, celery and onion; cook 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Sprinkle vegetables with flour and stir to combine. Add broth, water, bay leaf, salt and pepper.
Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Add noodles and chicken; cover and bring back to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 8 more minutes or until noodles are tender and chicken is cooked through. Remove bay leaf and stir in parsley just before serving. Makes approximately 4 servings.
(Hint:  When I'm in a hurry I use 12.5 oz can of Chicken instead of cutting up uncooked chicken breast and dried parsley in place of the fresh.)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Halloween Happenings

Winston had a great time this year.  He's finally old enough to get the whole trick or treat thing and he had a blast going around saying, "Trick or Treat" - not to mention he loves having Zack home.  This year for his costume, Bo sent home some genuine leiderhosen from Germany so Winston went as a little German boy.  He looked adorable in his authentic costume - the pants are real suede!
He also loved carving his pumpkin. Brad took him to the store and he picked out the biggest one he could find. We had a good time getting all the pumpkin guts out - at least until he decided to throw some on me. Yuck!
 Brad helped him light the candle.  He was very proud of his pumpkin and we had so much fun with him, I'm already looking forward to next Halloween.  Winston, you rock!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Zack's Home!!!!

Time slowed to a crawl while we waited for his plane to land and then for him to appear in the crowd.  Brad spotted him first and as soon as he said, "there he is," Winston took off at a dead run straight for Zack - dodging around the other people and throwing his arms around Zack's legs as soon as he reached him.  Zack bent down, hugged him back and picked him up.  Seeing my oldest hug my youngest was so touching, I couldn't help but cry and offer a prayer of gratitude in my heart for Zack's safe return home.   My sister captured these pictures of that moment and several more.  I'm so grateful she could be there.  I can't even describe how wonderful it is to have Zack home again. 
 
One home - one more to go.  :D

Thursday, October 28, 2010

THREE WEEKS, AGAIN!!

It seems like we were here just a few weeks ago - oh wait, we were.  Yes we just have three weeks until Bo comes home and I'm way excited.  It's great to have Zack home and my family will be complete again in just three short weeks.  Woot Woot Woot!  See you soon Bo!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Happy Birthday Zack

This is his 3rd birthday away from home.  He left on his mission just before his birthday and then extended his mission for an extra 3 weeks so he ended up having one birthday in the MTC and two in Japan.  His ward is having a combination birthday/farewell party for him.  He'll be home in a few days and I'm can't wait to see him and hear all about his adventures and experiences.  We sure love you Zack and hope you have a very Happy Birthday!  Travel safely and we'll see you soon.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Growing UP so Fast!

Just before his fourth birthday, Winston asked to have the training wheels removed from his bike.  I agreed figuring we'd humor him and then put them back on after he realized he needed them but he had a surprise for us - he really didn't need them.  He wobbled a little at first but after a couple of tries he just took off and now he's a little pro.  It's so cute and amazing to see our little guy peddling his bike around the neighborhood.  I've had some of our neighbors stop when we've been out and comment on how cute he looks and how fun it is to see him riding around.  Even the older neighbor kids are impressed that he doesn't need training wheels. Way to go Winston - you rock!

video

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fall Colors

We have the most beautiful mountains where I live.  The fall colors are spectacular right now - like a patchwork quilt.  With the sun out this afternoon, I just had to grab a few photos and try to capture their beauty.  I love our mountains.  Hope you've enjoyed the fall colors where you're at.  Happy Fall!


Friday, October 8, 2010

Pumpkin Cookies! Mmmmm!!

So I thought I'd get in my recipe for the month of October early.  This is a favorite of mine and Bo's - we both LOVE Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies and this recipe is delicious.  Plus, the cookies stay soft.  I can almost taste the sweet spiced cakey pumpkin cookie with the chocolate bursts from the chips.  Yummy!  Hope you enjoy them as much as we do.
PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

INGREDIENTS:
1 c. canned pumpkin
1 c. white sugar
½ c. vegetable oil
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. milk
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
1 T. vanilla extract
2 c. semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
½ c. chopped walnuts, optional

In a mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, sugar, oil and egg. Stir baking soda into milk and let dissolve; stir into pumpkin mixture. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and salt. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and mix well. Add vanilla, chocolate chips and nuts. Drop by spoonful onto a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until lightly brown and firm.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Pool Time for our little Fish - Glub, Glub!

So this one is a catch-up post.  For labor day we took Winston to the pool and he had an absolute blast.  I had fun watching him and capturing these pictures while he played, explored and swam all over the place.   

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

THREE WEEKS!!!!

Wow, I really can't believe that it's been two years already.  Don't get me wrong, it feels like forever since I last saw my boys but at the same time, it seems like they still have a ways to go.  Maybe it's because the first year seemed to drag by and the second has flown.  Eitherway, Zack will be home three weeks from today.  Did I mention how excited I am to see him again and get a hug?  Yipee!!  :D

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Beating the Odds

I've been so crazy busy at work this past month, I've hardly had time for anything else let alone blogging but I wanted to get this post in before the month was over. (Whew - just made it!)  Winston turned 4 earlier this month and I can't help but look at how far he's come. 

Before he was born, the odds were so heavily against him that I didn't dare feel excited about his future and my future with him.  After he was born it seemed like every time I'd start to think it was all going to be OK he'd have a set back and I'd worry all over again about all of the what ifs and remember what the doctors had said about babies born with the defect he had. 

Through it all I've tried to have faith and I've clung to a blessing given to me by a dear friend in which I was promised that even though Winston would have a rough start he would go on to live a healthy, full and rich life.  Looking at him now, you would never know how rough a start he had.  He really has beaten the odds and is such a blessing in our lives - not to mention living proof that miracles do still happen. 

Happy Birthday to my wonderful little buddy.  You've brought so much joy to my heart.   


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Recipe for September - Pecan Pie Bars

This recipe is a family favorite and when I take these anywhere, I'm always asked for a copy.  They're a perfect treat for the upcoming fall season so enjoy!


PECAN PIE BARS

CRUST:
3 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 c. plus 2 Tlb cold butter (no substitutes)
FILLING:
4 eggs
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. corn syrup
1/4 c. butter, melted
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups chopped pecans

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Cut in butter until crumbly. Press onto the bottom and up the sides of a greased 17 1/4-in. by 11 1/2-in. by 1-in. baking pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 18 to 22 minutes or until crust edges are beginning to brown and bottom is set.

For filling, combine the eggs, sugar, corn syrup, butter and vanilla in a large bowl; mix well. Stir in pecans. Pour over crust. Bake 25 to 30 minutes longer or until edges are firm and center is almost set. Cool on wire racks. Cut into bars. Refrigerate until serving. Yield 3 to 4 dozen.